Business / Economy

Lensman Jason Bell sees China as land of creative fashion ideas

By Xu Junqian in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-09 14:26

He may have taken many photos of some of the world's most high profile celebrities in his lifetime, but ask British photographer Jason Bell which image ranks as his best and he'll tell you that he has yet to shoot it.

An Oxford University graduate who studied politics, economics and philosophy, Bell is renowned for his images of personalities such as Paul McCartney, Johnny Depp, Scarlett Johansson and David Beckham.

He was also the person chosen to photograph Prince George's christening in 2013. "I am proud of that. I can go anywhere in the world and people would say that they know the photo of Prince George. But I don't know if it's my best work.

"I think it's always the next picture that gets me excited the most," the 47-year-old Londoner told China Daily in Shanghai where he was working as the guest photographer for the Shanghai Fashion Week's closing show by Belgium fashion designer Dirk Bikkembergs.

Fame and glamour aside, Bell said it's always people that interest him the most.

"Even as a kid, I was interested in people's faces. Fashion is interesting to me as an expression of the person, not the other way around," he said at the backstage area for Bikkembergs' show, one of the most popular events at SFW this year.

"I photograph writers, actors and politicians as well. I am interested in a bigger conversation, rather than just the conversation about fashion."

Bell remembered how he started taking pictures at the tender age of five and was by 13 already learning about developing and printing his own pictures. However, it was not until his college years that he decided to make photography a career.

Having witnessed the many changes in the fashion industry over the decades, Bell said that the biggest change to the industry was brought about by the internet and social networks like Instagram.

"The big change is the speed at which we get access to images and information and how people today can exert greater influences via these mediums. It's interesting how the opinions of well-known fashion bloggers in the front row matter today," he said.

Bell, who usually divides his time between London and New York, believes that now is a particularly interesting time to be in China as people around the world are talking about how important fashion is becoming in the country.

While he acknowledges that much of this conversation is centered on China's spending prowess instead of talent for fashion design, Bell believes more creative ideas will nonetheless be conceived as a result.

"I don't really want to be here just for commercial reasons. For me it's more about the culture that's excited by fashion. I think it's important and great that China develops its own fashion week, as it has now developed itself as a market," he said.

Asked if he managed to get any good shots from the Dirk Bikkembergs show, he noted that there was a moment when all the models were just standing around clothed in nothing but their underpants.

"I think that one might be a winner," said Bell.

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